July 22 2011 - A year after floods hit Pakistan, killing 2,000 people and leaving 11 million homeless, there are fears that this year’s monsoon could bring further disaster.
Many flood defences are reportedly still unrepaired after last year’s deluge, and contingency plans for coping with further heavy rain are either inadequate or non-existent.
The United Nations has warned that as many as five million people could be affected. Echoing those fears, Christian Aid emergency programme manager Neill Garvie says it is poorer communities that will be worst affected.
‘There are major concerns about the level of preparedness should there be a repeat of last year’s heavy monsoon rains,’ said Mr Garvie.
‘It is poorer people who do not have the option of moving away from the farmlands where they are tenants or bonded labourers that suffer most when the rains come. The very people still reeling from last year’s floods could be hit again.
‘Along the River Indus flood barrages have not been repaired, while in some areas the river has been diverted by industry away from its course, increasing the flooding risk.
‘The diversion of water for agriculture has also added to the flooding risk while in recent decades the mouth of the River Indus has silted up. As a result, encroaching sea water is leading to land salination which is threatening livelihoods.’
Donations from the UK public have led to some improvement. Christian Aid has supported 20,000 families through partners in the Action by Churches Together Alliance.
Some 90,000 people have received food, shelter and water, and support in the form of vouchers to buy seeds, tools and fertiliser as well as cash grants to set up or re-establish small businesses such as masonry, carpentry and plumbing.
Christian Aid partner Church World Service has also provided mobile health units, offering treatment to 15,000 families, many of whom would not normally be reached by government services.
In addition, working with a partner, Muslim Hands, Christian Aid has funded a pilot project, building flood-resistant homes in mixed Muslim – Christian villages. More than 50 have been completed, with hundreds more now planned.
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Notes to Editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.
2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty. Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf
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